Many times I have come face to face with some of life's more enigmatic phenomena, especially when I was a young adult. I thought about something, and within a few days that “something” would happen. I sensed things when I entered a room full of people. I knew what someone was going to say. I just seemed to know things that were beyond any explanation for my knowing.
This was far beyond the common occurrence of running into or receiving a call from someone I’d just thought of, though that happened also, and frequently. These things were more along the lines of ESP, an extra-sensory perception that gave me pause. I didn’t hear voices, didn’t see spectral images floating before my eyes, or find that little triangle thingy moving with force across an Ouija board. I couldn’t read anyone’s mind exactly, predict futures, or even win door prizes.
And, it wasn’t like this stuff happened all the time, either. Now and then, here and there, sometimes innocuous, sometimes apparent. But, to balance it all out, quite often I was totally oblivious and clueless, and living in a fool’s paradise.
My fun with the occult was more like walking into a courtroom when I was a news reporter and “sensing” everything that had occurred and been spoken before I’d arrived. There was a physical sensation of great heat, of slamming into a scorching concrete wall, that went along with that perception of knowing. As this was the strongest instance of the inexplicable that I had thus far encountered, I began to pay more attention, and not without a bit of trepidation.
Two of the stronger events came in the next year. The first was thinking, “We haven’t had a murder in a while.” Within a couple days, I responded to the scene of a murder-suicide. While driving along Spenard road one afternoon, a thought popped unbidden into my mind, “We haven’t had a big fire in a while.” The next day, a major fire burned several businesses on the main street of downtown Anchorage.
I reacted the way any sane person with a modicum of common sense, reason and logic would: I freaked out. I didn’t know if I was foretelling these things or not, but a suspicion that I might be causing them inveigled its way into my head. With that fear inextricably entrenched, I refused to entertain any more mysterious omens. That doesn’t mean they stopped. It simply means I ignored them.
Years passed, years in which employees wondered how I knew things, or a neighbor was startled that I knew she was pregnant when she and her husband had revealed it to no one. In the days of the Trivial Pursuit fad, answers would pop out of my mouth before I even thought about the question, which to me was just evidence of a mind overflowing with trivia, rather than actual knowledge. Often I had no idea how I knew that answer. On and on it went, and I learned to live with the curiosities by not giving them much credence. Just my bizarre mind, I would tell myself, and laugh.
Today I discovered my cell phone was in on the gig. It’s a relatively new cell phone, as I’ve only had it for two months, and have yet to sit down with the manual and probe its extensive capabilities.
Try as I might, I could not figure out how to add contact information in its address book. In fact, I couldn’t even find the address book, which says much about how my “special gift” doesn’t extend to technology. As the saying goes, when all else fails, read the directions. So, I managed to get the manual and the phone and some time all together at once, and read the directions. I entered five contacts before I decided that was going to take a lifetime.
The next time I went to Anchorage, I handed the cute little red Motorola Krzr to a young man at my service provider’s store, and asked him to transfer the data from my old phone to the new one. Fifteen minutes later, he handed it back to me, mission accomplished.
Something, however, had happened to my new phone. For two days last week, whenever I pressed the “clear” key or the “end” key, the screen would read “calling Herb Shaindlin” or “connected, Herb Shaindlin.” This did not happen once, or even twice, but several times. I considered several possibilities. Perhaps during the data transfer some kind of speed dialing had been activated, though I had never used that feature on any cell phone.
I told myself I must have pushed the wrong button, but “end” and “clear” are set apart on the right side of the keypad. Usually, I’m embarrassed to admit, I was driving when these things happened, and I immediately ended the call. I should call him, I thought. I knew Herb was ill, and I hadn’t checked in with him for a couple months. I really should call, but not while I’m driving.
Then suddenly, the anomalies stopped. “Clear” and “end” began to behave themselves and carry out their proper duties.
Today I opened my newspaper and learned that Herb died the day after my phone last insisted on calling him.
Oct. 7, 2008